CBD and South East Light Rail Project
Centennial Parklands and the Light Rail Project
The NSW Government has committed to tackling long-term traffic challenges and improving the public transport network in Sydney through the implementation of light rail.
The project, known as the CBD and South East Light Rail Project will see a light rail line built from Circular Quay to Kingsford and Randwick. As the route will pass through Centennial Parklands, there will be a number of important impacts on the Parklands (including some temporary works during construction phase).
Centennial Parklands position on the project is clear:
- We believe that the CBD and Light Rail Project will provide long-term social, environmental and economic benefits for the wider community, and more specifically will benefit the Parklands directly. It will help address a number of long-standing transport issues relating to access in and around the Parklands.
- As custodians of the Parklands, we have a duty to protect and enhance Centennial Parklands environment for the community - minimising any impacts of the project, and seeking appropriate offset measures where impact is unavoidable. This duty does include making hard decisions in the short-term for long-term benefits (including the impact on our trees - read more below).
- We are obliged under the Centennial Park and Moore Park Trust Act 1983 to support the NSW Government's policy on public transport initiatives along the designated transport corridor.
Following requests from the visitors and neighbours of Centennial Parklands, we have now established a project page to highlight specific information on the project that impacts upon Centennial Parklands.
This page will provide latest news, updates and frequently asked questions about the Light Rail Project and Centennial Parklands.
Latest project news
Transport for NSW are the lead government agency for the Light Rail project and media enquiries, while ALTRAC Light Rail is the consortium responsible for the design, build and operation of the CBD and South East Light Rail. ALTRAC Light Rail has a team of dedicated Community Engagement staff to respond to enquiries and ensure the community is informed of works, including potential impacts.
For improved access to information specific to Centennial Parklands, this webpage will include updates on the project that relate specifically to visitor impacts, project milestones and temporary changes during construction of the project.
Anzac Parade temporary diversion project
Work is underway on the implementation of a temporary Anzac Parade diversion road in Moore Park. From April 2016, a temporary six-lane road adjacent to Anzac Parade between Lang Road and the Albert Tibby Cotter Bridge, is being created to be used by vehicles while the light rail tunnel under Anzac Parade is being built.
Transport for NSW advises that temporarily diverting traffic we will reduce the planned construction time of the tunnel to less than a year. Previously, it was proposed to build the two sides of the tunnel in separate phases, which would have taken at least 16 months. The work required to implement this will not require any further loss of trees, and the Anzac Parade Busway will still be partially operational during construction. A temporary pedestrian/cyclist footpath will be created, with safety lighting and signage in place.
Further information and a map on this project can be found here.
Graffiti and tree protection
In January 2016 we had the highly unfortunate incident of vandals painting graffiti on over 100 of the significant heritage trees down Anzac Parade. After a thorough investigation, we ascertained that the graffiti could be removed through soap and water applied by a low-pressure hose. We do not expect any long term damage to these trees.
To deter repeat graffiti attack, we have placed large hessian wraps around the trees for their protection. This hessian has been tied with a tie-wire under the guidance of our arborists so no damage would be caused to the trees. No nails were used to install this hessian.
We understand there is some concern in the community that these specific trees will be removed. We can confirm that they are not being removed.
Tree removals along Alison Road
It was erroneously reported in late January in the media and on social media that around 60 fig trees along Alison Road were removed from Centennial Park. This was inaccurate. During this period only eight of the trees were on land managed by Centennial Parklands. The remaining trees removed in late January were on a strip of land adjacent Centennial Park that is owned by Randwick City Council.
No one likes the thought of trees being removed from the urban environment, especially in Centennial Parklands. We do, however, accept that to implement such a large-scale sustainable public transport system into a highly-built urban environment will mean the loss of some trees. However, Centennial Parklands' staff have worked hard with the project planning team to consider design and construction plans to minimise impact upon the Parklands and its trees, and through this work there are fewer trees being removed than was originally envisioned.
In addition, as part of the agreement with Transport for NSW, we will receive up to eight new trees for every tree lost as part of the project. This means over the next four years we will be planting approximately 560 new semi-mature trees in the Parklands - substantially increasing our tree population and allowing us to improve our tree diversity.
Specifically relating to Centennial Parklands, approximately 70 trees have been removed to date, with an estimated 50 more to be removed over the coming months. These are predominantly the semi-mature trees on the Parklands-side of the Anzac Parade busway, not the mature figs on the road-side of the busway.
Centennial Parklands' position on the project
The Centennial Park and Moore Park Trust is dedicated to protecting the green space, heritage assets, and built and natural environment, as well as ensuring public accessibility across Centennial Parklands.
We believe that the CBD and South East Light Rail project has long-term benefits for the Parklands and the wider community, and we are working with Transport for NSW - alongside the City of Sydney, Randwick City Council, University of NSW and the Australian Turf Club - on ensuring a successful outcome.
There are numerous challenges and issues faced by the Parklands in relation to accessibility, public transport options, traffic and pedestrian movement, and managing the precinct on peak visitation days. These are long-standing issues and well-acknowledged by the community. Many are outlined in the Centennial Park Master Plan 2040, and have been substantially communicated during the current development of a draft master plan for Moore Park.
Under the Centennial Park and Moore Park Trust Act 1983, we are obliged to support the NSW Government in developing public transport projects such as the Light Rail project along a defined corridor of land, however regardless of this we view the light rail project as of direct benefit to the Parklands and its visitors as follows:
- the project will improve public transport and access options for visitors to the Parklands - providing more access and opportunity to visit these green spaces;
- the project will decrease some visitors’ reliance on bringing private vehicles into the precinct - helping to reduce traffic congestion both within the Parklands and in streets and arterial roads adjacent the Parklands;
- the project will help to reduce peak congestion on major event days; and
- the project will help to achieve our ongoing commitment to reducing the on-grass parking on event days in Moore Park.
The vexed issue of trees
No one likes the thoughts of established trees being removed from our urban environment, much less the Parklands' Trustees and staff. We manage over 15,000 trees across Centennial Parklands and have an industry-leading Tree Master Plan that guides our management and maintenance regime to ensure we have a healthy and abundant tree population.
However, while not ideal, we accept that there is a level of unavoidable tree loss that will occur as part of the project in order to gain the greater good of a large-scale sustainable public transport system. We have worked hard with Transport for NSW to minimise any tree loss, and these decisions have not been easy, but have been made in the long-term interests of the Parklands, and for the wider long-term benefit of the community.
The good news is that through negotiation with Transport for NSW, we have ensured that all trees are being assessed on a case-by-case basis. In cases where removal of a tree is unavoidable, we have negotiated a tree compensation package to ensure more trees are put back into the Parklands than the number removed. This means that we anticipate around 560 new trees will be planted across the Parklands over the next four years. The long-term outcome will be a vast increase in the number of trees across the Parklands than currently exists. Transport for NSW, the project delivery agency for Light Rail, has a comprehensive report online about the tree impacts along the entire route from Circular Quay to Randwick here.
Frequently asked questions
The CBD and South East Light Rail project has resulted in a host of questions from the community which we have been responding to as they arise. We want to share this information wider, so have developed a number of frequently asked questions below to answer many of those that have been raised. As the project proceeds, we will add to these questions.
Q. What has been Centennial Parklands role in the CBD and South East Light Rail project?
A. Centennial Parklands, as a NSW State Government agency, has been nominated as a project partner by the NSW Government. Along with the City of Sydney, Randwick City Council, Australian Turf Club and University of NSW, we have been working with, and influencing the design and planning for the project since its announcement in 2014.
Our role is primarily support in the development of this new sustainable public transport system, while minimising its impact upon the built and natural environment of the Parklands.
The enormous challenges and scale of implementing a light rail project in a built urban environment has produced a large number of challenges, particularly in terms of route and environmental impact, and we have been working to ensure the interests of the Parklands and its visitors are maintained as far as practicable, through improved design and better understanding of the Parklands environment. Many decisions made have not been straightforward, and have involved a great deal of negotiation. Where compromises have had to be made, adequate compensation has been negotiated to ensure the net impact of the project in the long-term would be positive for the Parklands and the community.
Q. Why has Centennial Parklands permitted the Light Rail project to use its land?
A. As a responsible member of the wider community, we accept the need to improve and upgrade our city's public transport system, which includes looking at sustainable transport projects like Light Rail. We believe that the project will provide social, environmental and econonic benefits to our city, and also directly to the Parklands as well.
Our role in the project has also been defined under Section 20B of the Centennial Park and Moore Park Trust Act 1983. This clause requires the Parklands to work with the Minister for Transport to grant a permanent licence for an easement to permit a public transport corridor (which covers, in effect, the route of the Light Rail).
This role, however, does not remove us from our obligations to work to protect the lands and to ensure public access is maintained. We have ensured, through working with Transport for NSW, that the impact upon the Parklands is minimised, design changes are made as far as practicable to return the land to proper usage after construction or otherwise provide acceptable compensatory measures to recognise the impact on the Parklands.
Such compensatory measures have to date included:
- the tree replacement package
- the construction of new amenities and facilities at Robertson Road Fields
- improved pathways and lighting in Moore Park
- an expansion of Tramway Oval
- the reconstruction of sporting fields in Moore Park West once work is complete, and
- adaptation of plans to move some associated infrastructure out of the Parklands or more sympathetically blend them into the existing environment.
Q. What is Centennial Parklands view on tree removals as part of the project?
A. Trees in an urban environment provide a crucial role in our daily lives (read more here) and no one likes the thought of mature trees being removed from our city streets or parks. This has been the principle behind Centennial Parklands negotiations with the Light Rail planning team - to minimise any tree loss and to look for alternatives to removal as a first option. This will be determined on a case-by-case basis.
While we do accept that as part of any large-scale sustainable transport project there will be unavoidable tree loss, however we have negotiated with Transport for NSW that where trees can simply be trimmed back or can be safely relocated, then that option is to be prioritised.
Through this work we have managed to reduce expected tree loss to around 120 trees in total in Centennial Parklands (which represents 0.8% of our total tree stock), however as part of these negotiations we have agreed a tree compensation package that will result in substantially more trees being planted across the Parklands, than those lost (it is estimated we have have almost 4% more trees than currently exists at the end of the project). While the numbers sound positive, we do accept that in this is a long-term benefit that will only be fully realised once the trees mature over time.
It should be noted that recent media reporting and community speculation has wrongly identified a large number of trees removed along Alison Road as being in Centennial Parklands. Only eight of the more than 60 trees removed were in the Parklands, with the remainder on adjacent land owned by Randwick City Council.
Q. What has Centennial Parklands negotiated as part of the tree loss compensation package?
A. Transport for NSW has agreed to fund up to eight trees for every tree unavoidably lost due to the Light Rail project. On behalf of Transport for NSW, Centennial Parklands will be able to plant an estimated 560 new semi-mature trees across its lands over the next four years. This will help us to improve our tree canopy, create a more diverse tree population to improve opportunity for native birds and animals, and implement a number of other key initiatives outlined in our industry-leading Tree Master Plan that currently guide the management of our 15,000 trees.
Q. Are the large fig trees along Anzac Parade between Moore Park Road and Lang Road going to be lost?
A. The fig trees along this stretch of road are some of the most significant trees in the Parklands. Only three of these trees have been removed, as part of the tunnelling work that will bring the Light Rail route underneath Anzac Parade. The remaining trees will not be impacted.
In January 2016 there was an unfortunate graffiti attack on these trees, which many in the community interpreted as a means of indicating these trees were being removed. Again, they are not. While we have cleaned the graffiti off the trees, we have additionally wrapped hessian around the trunks of most of these trees to deter copycat or repeat graffiti attacks in the short term.
Q. Where do I find out more about the CBD and South East Light Rail project?
A. By visiting the Transport for NSW project website, contacting their Information Centre (details here), or contacting the Project Infoline: 1800 684 490. We will provide updates for the community on project elements that impact directly upon the Parklands on this page, however all questions about the project should be directed to Transport for NSW as above.